Life gets worse for Gunners
Published 19/02/2012 | 05:00
In the good old days, Arsene Wenger could dismiss the FA Cup. Last night, the FA Cup and Sunderland dismissed him when Wenger needed the competition most.
Arsenal have become used to finishing the season without a trophy and these springtime collapses have become commonplace too, but the sense of crisis increased after last night's 2-0 loss. After the defeat in the San Siro last Wednesday, Wenger on called on his side to regroup. Not for the first time this season, it sounded like they weren't listening.
Arsenal were dominated and nobody was surprised. "It's very difficult to say where it leaves us and what we will do, let's focus to finish well in the championship and fight as well, even if it's a small possibility, in the Champions League," Wenger said afterwards
Martin O'Neill has been rightly praised for the transformation of Sunderland, but this was not a shock in the context of that work and Arsenal's increasingly dismal season.
James McClean again made his omission from the Ireland squad look like a monumental error.
Wenger may have told his players not to feel sorry for themselves but privately he must have feared their reaction would be no reaction. Last night he complained about the fixture list, the pitch and generally acted as defiantly as a manager who wants to fight on.
"I think it was a committed performance and we gave absolutely everything that was left in our legs," Wenger said.
"We had three away games in one week and I believe it was a very unfortunate schedule to play away in the Champions League and immediately away again."
O'Neill and Sunderland have reached the sixth round as his transformation again brought joy. "I'm really, really delighted for everybody concerned with the football club and the players in particular. There's plenty of self-belief about the team, that's getting stronger and I think they feel as if they can win matches, which is great."
Arsenal are now staggering towards the end. They play Tottenham at the Emirates next Sunday. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes it just keeps getting worse.
Sunday Indo Sport